If there are two things I love, then it's food and entertainment. So combine them and you really can't go wrong in my book.
Even though I go to gigs regularly, going to the theatre or to the Arena is still a big event in my calendar and so it's nice to make the most of it to make it extra special. Of course there are numerous hot food choices around the arena already, including the staple favourite of burgers and chips, but they are more of a take into the gig option, so the new restaurant offers a full sit-down experience.
It's also a stress free experience when you book it along side your show. There's no waiting in a queue for your tickets, they're held on the reception desk ready for you to pick up at your leisure after your meal to simply walk down to your seating - which comes with great views.
So, no dashing about, the avoidance of potential burger spillages and easy to collect tickets are not the only benefits of the new restaurant. On arrival you simply grab a lift to the fourth floor where you'e shown to your table. The venue has been beautifully decorated in calming grey hues and boasts floor to ceiling views of the city skyline, obviously this time of year, chances are it's dark if you visit for an evening gig, but it's still a view to be admired.
The menu, I'm told, does change depending on the show or concert at Motorpoint Arena at the time, offering both a-la carte and bistro menus. For example a more child orientated show will be catered for with the selection of burgers, pizzas, giant fish fingers and veggie and chicken nuggets. I'm assuming the music is the same because our ambient background music was a mix of well known 80's numbers which really got us in the mood for the show ahead. The Spotlight Experience also included a complimentary drink on arrival, in this case it was Prosecco.
The menu we had to choose from, from the new state of the art kitchen, offered a great range of options, catering to vegetarians and vegans included. I went for the Roasted Fillet of Cod served with Green Beans provencal and a potato rosti. It arrived under a cloche, which was a grand touch and with that the dish lived up to exceptions. Fresh and flavoursome, the portion size was just right.
My dining companion opted for the Beyond Meat Mediterranean Burger and wasn't disappointed. The vegan burger served with chargrilled pepper, black olive tapenade, caramelised onion, in a toasted brioche bun, served with twice cooked chips, salad and onion rings was tasty and looked very appetising.
There was also a great selection of desserts including Chocolate Torte, Lemon Meringue Pie and Fresh Fruit Salad.
The Torte was rich and moist and the Lemon Meringue a great sweet refreshing palate cleanser. The staff were all very friendly and helpful throughout our experience too.
Finishing a few minutes before the start of the show, we arrived at our seats feeling warm, relaxed and ready for a great night ahead.
Hosted by DJ Pat Sharpe (somewhat of an 80's icon himself - remember FunHouse?) alongside Dave Benson-Phillips, it was a night of nostalgia and fabulous 80's music. First act of the night was Dr & The Medics. They got the show off to a roaring start with a cover of Slades Merry Christmas everyone, which put me in a really festive mood for the evening ahead. They followed it up by, of course, the song they're best known for, their cover of Spirit in the Sky. A track the audience loved.
Next up was Peter Coyle - ex Lotus Eaters - he was the only name of the evening I wasn't familiar with but I recognised the numbers he sang. I think two were covers of other artists (Mr Blue Sky) alongside one of his own hits 'Picture of You'
Annabella from Bow Wow Wow took to the stage next with hits I Want Candy and Wild in the Country.
There was a quick change with each artist thanks to the fact that most of them used the same talented bunch of musicians, who between them, managed to replicate those iconic 80's sounds. I saw a similar gig last year and the change over of bands and equipment meant the evening lost momentum - thankfully a gripe which has been ironed out for this years gigs.
Sonia took to the stage dressed the most festive of the evening in what I would describe as a Santa/Skater dress. The audience singing along word for word to the Stock Aitken and Waterman number 'You'll Never Stop Me From Loving You'
Then Jerico's Mark Shaw gave an energetic performance which included Big Area. Whatever these guys are on I want some. Easy to forget that as I grew up to their music - many of them are well over a decade at least older, yet look, move and sing as not a day has passed.
Take Toyah for example, she seems ageless, though I guess she started her career young, but she delivered It's a Mystery and I Want to be Free looking and sounding as fresh as ever.
The hits kept on coming with Altered Images Claire Grogan who performed hits Happy Birthday and I Could Be Happy, looking stunning in white.
Boney M followed. They looked and sounded amazing! I saw them perform live at Nottingham Poly - when it was one - many years ago - and they seem to get younger and better. We were told it was the original line up - wow - could they throw some moves. Brown Girl in the Ring, ....but no Mary's Boy Child - why? Surely we're crying out for it this time of year. A short break followed - after which would be the headliners. For this section they were shown on the big screens to the side of the stage. It would have been nice to have had these on throughout to get a full view of all the artists, so it's a shame they weren't used for whatever reason.
The second half off to a great start. Classic after classic from the falsetto tones of Jimmy Somerville - another one nifty on his feet as he performed hits including You Make Me Feel, You Make Me Fee (Mighty Real)
80's legend Nik Kershaw follows - The Riddle, Wouldn't it be Good - one of the many of the artists tonight I could listen to all night - but we're zipping through them.
Marc Almond is next - an artist who played Splendour in 2018 - a master of his art, we were treated to Tainted Love, Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart, Say Hello Wave Goodbye.
There's barely time left for Tony Hadley - an 11 O'Clock curfew -yes we've been non stop for almost 3 and a half hours - means he's looking at his watch throughout his set, but he still treated to audience to two festive numbers, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, as well as Through the Barricades and a new track, and then he was gone and it was over - there's no big encore or group number. We're probably as exhausted as they are, but boy, what a night! What an overall experience! It really does make for a great night out, so if you haven't been yet - give it a try. You won't be disappointed. Retro Let’s Rock has 2 more gigs this winter , Wembley and Glasgow in the summer 14 they will be at more great venues up and down the country.
For more details visit: https://letsrock80s.com/
#Invite/gifted - My views are my own
Photos by Michael Mills